What sparked your interest in food? "I lived in Hong Kong when I was 10 to 12 years old and still have amazing memories of dining in Lei Yue Mun and eating all those live seafood dishes. I lived in Japan for four years and we enjoyed great cream puffs, green tea and cakes there. While I was attending university in Australia, I visited a farm three times a week. I am fortunate to have had these experiences, which shaped me into the versatile chef I am today, capable of designing a restaurant menu as well as a fine dessert bar."

What is your most significant food memory? "Tasting strawberries on a Melbourne farm. Strawberries with dirt, straight from the soil. The flavour is so fresh - it's awesome."

Edible art is the best way to share my philosophy with others
Janice Wong

 

Which chef influenced you most? "Grant Achatz, chef and founder of Alinea, in Chicago. This was eight years ago, for merely one week of training under him. Even one week impacted me a lot. He creates an experience that is different."

How has winning the prize for Asia's best pastry chef in 2013 and 2014 changed your life? "I didn't expect it the first time. I was doing a 7am to 6pm shift that day then headed down to the ceremony, and they announced the award. You sit back and wonder why people awarded you this twice. We are always creating new products so that means what we are doing is right. Plus, the door is opened to new opportunities, such as setting up places in Hong Kong and Japan."

You're the culinary consultant of Cobo House, in Shek Tong Tsui, an all-day dining concept rather than a pure dessert bar. Tell us about that. "As Hong Kong's first dessert bar that espouses a farm-to-table philosophy, the restaurant demonstrates its sincerity about food with its own rooftop garden [with sand from Okinawa], where the menu's organic herbs and edible plants will be grown. I will create sweet and savoury dishes with this fresh produce. Some dishes may be experimental because I want to see what's available in the Hong Kong market. Cooking should be as simple as possible, with the main focus on ingredients. Very important to me are the details and how much is put on a plate."

First impressions of Cobo House by 2am:dessertbar restaurant, Shek Tong Tsui

Tell us about your edible art installations. "In 2011, I created my first installation, Marshmallow. We change people's perception of pastry and arts, allowing art interns to work with culinary interns. Edible art is the best way to share my philosophy with others."

Is there anything in Hong Kong you wish to experience? "I look forward to exploring the vibrant art scene and culture here by visiting local galleries. I want to go out and eat. I have been to Mott 32, Yardbird and Ser Wong Fun."

What do you do to slow down? "Yoga is definitely part of my routine when it comes to cleaning up my mind and exercising my body. I also enjoy diving. When you are under water you don't have to speak to anyone or hear anything. You are just there with nature."

Pick one dessert that best describes you. "Cassis plum. Its look and feel is feminine but there is a surprise inside it. The experience is very direct. People often see my feminine side - soft-spoken. My friends may tell you I am actually an Energizer Bunny, like the one in the commercial. Dynamism is very important in my work and if I lost that energy my soul would be lost."